Live from Cairo (19)
BREAKING 11:03AM On state TV, Sul says Mub gone! ("Erhal!" is chant: "Leave!") Has asked the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to take charge. Chant: "The people have brought down the regime." 11:56AM Mubarak's Wikipedia entry already edited to say he was the President of Egypt. Obama statement expected shortly.
BREAKING 11:01AM Statement expected from Mub shortly. [Was from Sul!]
SUMMARY 9:00AM Friday Long lines headed toward Palace to join crowd there. Mub in Sharm El-Sheikh (plane seen by eyewitnesses; heavier security). Big crowds surround of state TV. State-owned media says that ten govt buildings surrounded by protesters in Alexandria. Communique #2 from the Army: It will lift the state of emergency when the current situation ends, backs Mub power transfer to Sul, tells protesters to go home. Military still cultivates good relations with protesters; bottles of water. At least one middle-ranking officer has gone over to the protesters. 9:48AM Two helicopters land inside the Palace grounds. Big enough for luggage with $60 billion? Waiting for a statement to be read from the Palace. Google exec and A6Mer Wael Ghonim refuses Communique #2. Communique #3 from the Army coming?
[Best question from an interviewer EVAH: "Why is is necessary to shut down the state television building?" Yes, from AJ. Sometimes I get the sense that AJ wants to prove that they're "real" by asking "objective" questions like that... --lambert]
Crowds surround the state TV building, troops with tanks and machine guns protecting it. Staff has not been able to leave since last night.
10:21AM bencnn tweets:
Crowd pressure pushes down stretch of barbed-wire fence front of State TV, then pulls it back, chanting "silmiya" "peaceful"
Friday material continues here.
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SUMMARY 7:55PM Light the blue touch paper and stand back... Promised statements not yet made: Obama's White House, and Communique #2 from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. 8:07PM White House statement. As strongly worded as a statement can be without actually saying Mub should go. 9:43PM Protesters still in TS. New: A few thousand now camped out before the Ministry of Information, and others at the Palace. Still no Communique #2.
9:56PM AJ's evanchill reports via YT. Shoes start at 4:00 [#30]. Not a bad gesture to adopt in this country, I would say. Also, be sure to listen all the way to 5:55, "a very well-crafted speech," and 7:07, "my cousin and her company." Egyptian society really is divided.
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2128: Journalist Lina Wardani tells the BBC: "Thousands of angry Egyptians are moving now towards the presidential palace. I think things will change tonight or tomorrow morning. I don't expect these angry masses to go home or wait until tomorrow. These people are not going to go home. It's not only Tahrir, it's all the streets to downtown. People are chanting 'down with the regime'."
11:50pm: Among the chants heard in Tahrir Square:
?We're off to the presidential palace. We're going as millions of martyrs?.
It’s now about 12:30 a.m. in Egypt. CNN is reporting that protesters have formed a human chain around the headquarters of state TV in Cairo.
[Still haven't heard anything about troop movements, which is good news, eh? --lambert]
This is interesting: the BBC's Paul Adams reports that people in Cairo are receiving text messages from the high council of the army, saying that it is monitoring how events unfold and will decide how to act.
[I take that as a positive, actually (depending on the actual wording, which I don't have). So far, the TS people have behaved with incredible maturity (which I hope does not sound patronizing; I look up to them) and I hope this continues.... --lambert]
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Daou tweets on media coverage:
Great job by U.S. media declaring Mubarak definitely quitting -- also Leon Panetta, others...
True, but that was surely the expectation on AJ as well, and they just read out a timeline of the sourcing on it. Heck, my expectation -- driven by hope and admiration, for sure. "Reality is more complicated than any theory."
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Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei reacts on Twitter to the latest developments: "Egypt will explode. Army must save the country now."
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I think the Mubarak regime is trying to bait the crowd in Tahrir Square and is hoping for violence and is hoping for some kind of march on the presidential palace that seems to get violent. Then they can step in and in the guise of restoring order, return to the military rule, return to the martial law that they want to consolidate. That's the danger here.
This might be a turn that history will record as the moment things went awry."
[Or not. Violence can simplify. I hate to think the situation has become so simple that a CNN analyst gets it right. --lambert]
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7:02PM Rep: People leaving TS, marching to different areas. 300 to Ministry of Information, surrounded by 20 tanks, and Heliopolis, where the palace is.
Update 6:48 p.m. ET: NBC News' Chuck Todd reports that White House officials say President Barack Obama found Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's speech "extremely dispiriting."
After making upbeat remarks earlier in the day at a speech in Michigan, in which he said the world was watching "history unfold," Obama is now expected only to issue a written statement this evening.
"We've got to work this carefully," a U.S. official told Todd. "We've got to get this just right."
Noting ambiguity arising from differing translations of Mubarak's remarks — which left it unclear just how much power Mubarak had turned over to Vice President Omar Suleiman — Todd said officials at the White House "want to believe that Suleiman is in charge" but can't be 100 percent of that.
Well, sure. After all, Sul is a torturer.
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The Economist has a nice sequence of what we heard throughout the day:
In the early evening, Egypt's Supreme Military Council met and issued a very coup-like "Communiqué No. 1" stating that "all the people's demands will be met." State television, which had hitherto showed only a sliver of the packed square, moved its cameras to offer a full view of the joyous protesters. It also announced that President Hosni Mubarak would soon speak to the nation, in what most presumed would be a resignation speech.
Rumours spread on Twitter and satellite channels that Mr Mubarak was headed for Dubai, Manama or Sharm al-Sheikh. Debates erupted over whether his vice-president, the dour Omar Suleiman, a former intelligence chief, would be an acceptable replacement. The protesters began to split between those who would be satisfied with Mr Mubarak's resignation, and those who wanted to continue the revolution. All the while, contradictory reports emerged from the wire agencies, satellite stations and Egypt's political class.
In Tahrir Square, expectations were high. Many had come to take part in revelry, but Mr Mubarak's speech continued to be postponed. Jokes began to circulate about why he was so late, with the consensus being that he was, after all, an Egyptian, a people not known for their punctuality. Amidst the drumbeats and jovial chants, time passed.
And then the bubble burst.
Except I'd say that the indications, official and otherwise, of Mub going were stronger than this. But the sequence is right.
It's hard to exaggerate how bad Hosni Mubarak's speech today was for Egypt. In the extended runup to his remarks, every sign indicated that he planned to announce his resignation: the military's announcement that it had taken control, the shift in state television coverage, a steady stream of leaks about the speech. With the whole world watching, Mubarak instead offered a meandering, confused speech promising vague Constitutional changes and defiance of foreign pressure. He offered a vaguely worded delegation of power to Vice President Omar Suleiman, long after everyone in Egypt had stopped listening. It is virtually impossible to conceive of a more poorly conceived or executed speech.
Omar Suleiman's televised address which followed made things even worse, if that's possible, telling the people to go home and blaming al-Jazeera for the problems. It solidified the already deep distrust of his role among most of the opposition and of the protestors, and tied his fate to that of Mubarak. Even potentially positive ideas in their speeches, such as Constitutional amendments, were completely drowned out by their contemptuous treatment of popular demands. Things could get ugly tonight --- and if things don't explode now, then the crowds tomorrow will be absolutely massive. Whatever happens, for better or for worse, the prospects of an orderly, negotiated transition led by Omar Suleiman have just plummeted sharply.
Yep. And AKAIK, that was Obama's plan. Oopsie.
More on sequence from The Times:
The anger was fueled in good part by expectations that Mr. Mubarak would be making his last address to the nation. For much of the day, people traded rumors about where he might be preparing to go to — Bahrain and Dubai were two rumored destinations — and then by a cascade of official statements suggesting that might be the case.
The first came from the civilian government. Around 3 p.m., Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq told the BBC that talks with Mr. Mubarak about his possible resignation were already under way.
Gen. Hassan al-Roueini appeared in Tahrir Square to tell protesters that “all your demands will be met today,” witnesses said, words that were quickly read by crowds around him to mean that Mr. Mubarak was on the way out.
A short time later, the military, still seen as potentially decisive in the conflict, announced that it was taking action in what sounded to many people like a coup.
“In affirmation and support for the legitimate demands of the people, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces convened today, 10 February 2011, to consider developments to date,” an army spokesman declared on state television, in what was described as communiqué No. 1 of the army command, “and decided to remain in continuous session to consider what procedures and measures that may be taken to protect the nation, and the achievements and aspirations of the great people of Egypt.”
Around the same time, Gen. Sami Hafez Enan, the chief of staff of the armed forces, appeared in Tahrir Square to tell the protesters the same thing, to roars of celebration.
The reports seemed increasingly convincing, to both protesters and even high-ranking officials. Hossam Badrawy, the top official of the ruling party, said in a television interview that he had personally told the president he should resign. And, though Mr. Mubarak did not respond, Mr. Badrawy said he believed he would go. “That is my expectation, that is my hope,” he added in an interview. The news electrified protestors in the square.
Bottom line here is that everybody who thought that Mub would leave had plenty of good reasons to think so. When a general says "All your demands will be met," and one of those demands is that Mub leave, and "The Army and the people are one," what are people to think? Even poor Leon Panetta had good reason to say what he did. Where it all went sour, who knows. Did Mub deke everybody? Were the generals and Mub cooperating to deke everybody? Right now, not knowable.
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7:40PM, Andrew Simmons AJ: Everywhere all over E people glued to TV, even the grandmothers. Channel flippng. But state TV has impact too, journalists as spies is ramping up again. We can expect very large numbers today and tomorrow.
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Meanwhile, the military command was supposed to have made a statement this evening but it appears that has been postponed until Friday morning.
Nothing from the Egyptian military, and nothing from Obama, either.
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Did Mub and Sul deke Obama? AFP:
There was no immediate comment from senior US officials on Mubarak's speech and Obama declined to answer shouted questions from reporters after he exited his Marine One helicopter and marched into the Oval Office.
But CNN quoted one unnamed official as saying the speech was "not what we were told would happen, not what we wanted to happen."
Also, Clinton? Just Googled "Clinton Egypt" and no hits at all.
8:03PM AJ, Patty D: White House as confused as everybody else. But transfer to Sul is not enough. Want to see "irreversible change." "Spell out in clear and unambigous language the steps to democracy." Still have not said that "President Mubarak needs to go." Copy of White House statement.
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Transcript of Mub speech.
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It’s currently 3:45 a.m. in Egypt. Al Jazeera’s Arabic service is reporting that there are about 10,000 protesters surrounding the state TV building in Cairo now. CNN reported earlier that an estimated crowd of 1,000 protesters were nearing the site of Egypt’s presidential palace. Many protesters remain camped out in Tahrir Square.
11:13PM Column by Jim Hoagland in Pravda shows Versailles at its worst; the riff is "The Mub I knew then wouldn't be doing what Mub is doing now," but Mub than was exactly the same as Mub now. He's a dictator, for pity's sake!
11:19PM I still haven't heard anything about troop movements, like thousands of internal security troops in trucks. That's a good thing. And AJ had sources out by the airfields, so I'm guessing there aren't reports of helicopter gunships massing. I'm reminded of the story from World War II that German soldiers would, literally, put their ears to the ground to hear the rumble of tanks, miles away. So, like that.
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And on Communique #2:
SMS from Army: Armed Forces Higher Council now meeting to study situation, will issue important communique to people. Same SMS 9 hours ago
Lordy. [9:57AM Friday. The Communique #2 seems to have been issued, but I missed it. --lambert]
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1348The Tunisian Hend Sabry, star of the Yacoubian Building and Cairo resident, tells the BBC World Service her husband is demonstrating in Tahrir Square today but public opinion is split. "More and more people in the streets of Cairo are now saying that 'this is enough, we achieved a lot, and we now should move on with our lives'. Time is on the side of the pro-stability camp. And I think that this is what the decision makers are playing on."
No numbers, of course, in the midst of all this. Another:
evanchill There were govt supporters at the mosque who were clearly unhappy that friday prayers erupted into a protest
~9:15AM Friday Detail on the palace crowd:
1327: An interesting observation from Nadia El-Awady outside the presidential palace. She tweets: "Not a single chant at pres palace. Posh upper middle class tires easily. We NEED tahrir lot here!"
An AJ reporter describes the mixed crowd, but there's definitely more designer-wear here in Heliopolis! And:
1156: The atmosphere is not so good elsewhere, apparently. Arwa Mahmoud tweets from outside the presidential palace: "Protesters in presidential palace are very vulnerable to thug attacks. Hardly any filtering. This is dangerous. #jan25 #egypt"
[Lack of filtering is the first organizational flaw I've heard reported by the protesters. Perhaps the organizers, too, are tiring. --lambert]
~9:20AM Friday Reuters:
A small group of protesters [larger now] has gathered outside Mubarak's palace in Cairo. A witness tells Reuters the army has not tried to remove them. Razor wire and six tanks and armored vehicles separate them from the residence
9:37AM Friday AJ Live blog:
3:56pm Tens of thousands of protestors in the port city of Suez have surrounded 10 government buildings and announced that they will not leave until Mubarak steps down. This reported by Al Ahram, the largest state owned newspaper.
9:44AM AJ Live blog:
11:27am Vice-President Omar Suleiman has told Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq to appoint a deputy premier from a council of "wise men" who have been in talks with the government. The state news agency says the deputy prime minister would take responsibility for "a national dialogue".
[The "wise men" aren't ElB's group, however, and at least one of them (some sort of billionaire) wants the protesters to go home because they've achieved their goals. I don't see this as outright insulting, though! --lambert]
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9:50AM AJ Live Blog:
The Associated Press news agency has reported that a former Israeli Cabinet minister who has long known Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, says Mubarak is looking for an honourable way out.
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer of Israel's Labor Party says he spoke with Mubarak just hours before the president's speech yesterday in which he transferred authorities to his deputy but refused to step down.
Ben-Eliezer told Army Radio that Mubarak knew "this was the end of the road" and wanted only to "leave in an honorable fashion."
[Of course, after yesterday, cum grano salis. --lambert]
9:50AM AJ Blog:
9:51am An army officer joining protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square says 15 other middle-ranking officers have also gone over to the demonstrators.
"The armed forces' solidarity movement with the people has begun," Major Ahmed Ali Shouman tells Reuters.
~10:15AM Guardian on Communique #2:
The Egyptian military has thrown its weight behind Hosni Mubarak's decision not to resign as president and to transfer most of his powers to his vice-president.
In a statement read out on Friday morning, the military announced it would lift a 30-year-old state of emergency "as soon as current circumstances end", but gave no specific timeframe.
The statement – called "Communique No 2" – also said the military would guarantee changes to the constitution as well as a free and fair election, and it called for normal business activity to resume.
Lifting the state of emergency was a key demand of the demonstrators, but the decision to back Mubarak's process of slow transition is likely to enrage the protesters who have massed in Cairo's Tahrir Square and elsewhere every day for more than two weeks.
The army said it would protect the nation but repeated a call for protesters to go home so life could return to normal; protests and strikes have had a serious effect on the Egyptian economy.
The army "confirms the need to resume orderly work in the government installations and a return to normal life, preserve the interests and property of our great people".
The communique acknowledged the delegation of powers to Omar Suleiman, indicating that the military stood squarely behind the president's speech, and also pledged to "preserve the stability and safety of the nation".
Mubarak shocked demonstrators expecting his resignation by telling them he would not quit as president until elections in September.
The statement is the second in two days from the armed forces following a military "supreme council" meeting.
The army's role is seen as critical in shaping how the crisis will now develop in the coming days. Speaking before Communique No 2 was issued, Rosemary Hollis of City University, London, said there was "a distinct possibility" the armed forces would now split.
Hollis said there were a couple of ways this split could go. One would be a division between older, senior officers, and younger ones from the middle ranks.
"The most senior ranks are the same age as Mubarak and Suleiman," she said. "The younger men are their [the demonstrators'] generation. They will identify less with Mubarak and more with the future of the country they want to be part of."
Hollis said the other way the armed forces could split would be ideologically, between those who wanted to concentrate on "law and order" and a "managed transition under Mubarak and co" and felt this would be "preferable to the dangers of a transition to democracy", and on the other side those "embracing change with all its uncertainty".
10:28AM Response from Wael Ghonim to Communique #2 (IIRC, Ghonim is A6M):
1428: Google executive and prominent opposition figure Wael Ghonim has given Al Arabiya a response to today's army statement. "Owing to the lack of trust between the people and the current regime, we demand from [the army], as a national institution that is respected and appreciated by Egyptians, to be the guarantor of popular demands. With clarity of vision, clear details and a set timetable. First of all [you must] guarantee the seriousness of the honorary stepping down of President Mubarak for good, for good, for good."
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Perhaps the most overlooked factor in the demise of the authoritarian Ben Ali regime in Tunisia, and the weakening of Hosni Mubarak's grip on state power in Egypt, has been the trade unions in both countries.
While the media has reported on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook as revolutionary methods of mobilisation, it was the old-fashioned working class that enabled the pro-democracy movements to flourish.
As working men and women in Egypt became increasingly vulnerable to exploitation and a deteriorating quality of life, the only legal trade unions – the ones affiliated to the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) – proved worthless. The result of all of this was an unprecedented wave of strikes across the public and private sectors that began in 2004 and has continued to the present day. During the first four years of the current strike wave, more than 1,900 strikes took place and an estimated 1.7 million workers were involved.
As one worker in a fertiliser company put it, the effect of going on strike was to convince the employer "that they had a company with human beings working in it. In the past, they dealt with us as if we were not human."
Those links with the international trade union movement have proven critical in recent days as well. When the Mubarak regime tried to cut off Egypt from the internet, CTUWS activists were able to phone in their daily communiques to the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Centre in Washington. The messages were transcribed, translated from the Arabic, and passed on to the wider trade union world using websites such as LabourStart.
The pressing point is that experts misjudged the tumult in Egypt and Tunisia largely because they ignored and overlooked the democratic aspirations of working-class Tunisians and Egyptians. To understand why so many authoritarian Arab regimes remain fragile, one need to only to look through the window on to the court of labour relations.
SUL: Mub has decided to waive the office of the Pres of the Republic and instructed the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to run the affairs of the country.
Short and sweet. That was the statement in its entirety; it took about twenty seconds (transcript).
11:40AM Anch: I hate to interrupt the party atmosphere, but the Army is now in charge. What happens next? Int: The Army was noble. The Army did not fire a single bullet. It was the thugs. This is the beginning, not the end. [And that question is why I love AJ. --lambert]
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LA Times on the power-players, including the military.
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[I shouldn't let my penchant for NV drive me not to mention provincial violence, featured in Pravda. --lambert]
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12:09PM Department of Irony and Plus Ca Change... :
Egypt's leading [semi-official] newspaper, al-Ahram has published a special issue hailing what it terms "the 25 January Revolution".
12:10PM Head of the SCAF:
A military source tells the Reuters news agency that Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the defence minister and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, is the head of the Higher Military Council that has taken control in Egypt.
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Joy, pride, happiness... Now, of course, the hard work begins! Obama statement expected shortly; no doubt he'll attempt to hijack the "youth movement" for 2012. I don't think I'll hang around to listen to ugliness like that. Signing off for now. --lambert
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1. AJ live feed
2. AJ Twitter
3. AJ live blog
7. CNN Twitter.